Belarus: Film banned from festival for “anti-human view of life”

20 October 2016

The Belarusian Ministry of Culture’s expert commission on the prevention of pornography, violence, and cruelty has forbidden organizers of the sixth annual Bulbamovie film festival from screening Valeriya Tseliasheuskaya’s short film ‘Belarusian Scrambled Eggs’ due to its “numerous scenes of violence” and that “the relationships between the people in the film suggest a uni-dimensional, anti-human view of life”, reported human rights organization Charter 97 on 14 October 2016.

Festival director Maksim Zhbankou made the announcement of the ban at a press conference in Minsk and said that all 24 films in the programme were sent to the ministry for approval and that they “depend on the decision of the authorities”, but that this decision raises questions:

This decision doesn’t allow for screening the film in Belarusian cinemas, but the document gives free rein for other options of viewing this film. We believe that the viewer has the right to decide what and why to watch, and the arguments of the expert commission look, to put it mildly, weird. As a matter of course, the viewer will not see this film on-screen during the festival, but this does not mean that we won’t find some opportunity to convey to the viewer that it is possible to get acquainted with this film in another way. Thus, without violating state laws, we do protect the rights of our viewers and filmmakers.

The short film is one of five parts of Andrei Kudzinenka’s ‘Thanatos and Eros’ film project. The entire film cycle was scheduled for screening on 22 October 2016, but festival organisers do not know if the rest of the parts will be screened. The themes of the five-part cycle are death and love.

The plot of the short film is that a police officer returns home, finding his wife with a lover. All three characters adjourn to the kitchen and the lover is killed, film producer Victor Boyko told Belarusian radio Euroradio on 14 October 2016, adding that the death is neither violent nor cruel, and that Belarusian national television shows more “inhumane” scenes.

Restrictive environment for the arts
The Bulbamovie festival is set to take place in Belarusian capital Minsk from 21-23 October 2016. This is the second time the festival has been held in Belarus, the previous four times the festival was held in Warsaw, Poland.

“There was something not quite right, because it was necessary to go to Warsaw to see Belarusian cinema in the same way that many people go to ‘Basovishcha’ [Belarusian music festival held in Poland] to hear Belarusian rock and roll,” Zhbankou told Belarusian online news Naviny on 13 October 2016.

Under the government of President Alexander Lukashenko, who has held the office since 1994, art and artists have been under threat, especially since 2011, when an unofficial blacklist surfaced, comprised artists that were deemed “unwanted”.

Musicians, like 2016 Freemuse Award winner Lavon Volski, who is one of the most popular figures in the country’s alternative music scene and is seen as a “threat” for his criticism of Lukashenko’s regime, cannot play in their own country and have to hold shows in neighbouring friendly countries like Poland and Lithuania. In many cases their music also cannot be sold in Belarus or played on radio and television.

Photo: Bulbamovie Facebook page


» Charter 97 – 14 October 2016:
Film “Belarusian Scrambled Eggs” banned from festival Bulbamovie

» Euroradio – 14 October 2016:
Producer of banned film: NTV shows more inhuman things every day

» Naviny – 13 October 2016:
Bulbamovie festival spectators left without “Belarusian Scrambled Eggs”

More from Freemuse

» 4 May 2016: Sweden: Belarus has a winner in the Eurovision village

» 28 April 2016: Belarus: Lavon Volski is a free man in an unfree country

» 3 October 2014: Freemuse to UN: Belarus should explain censorship

» 3 December 2013: Belarus: Blacklisted musicians play abroad

» 4 November 2013: Belarus: Cultural censorship as state policy | Index

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